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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 151

(1890) and My Literary Passions (1895) came Literary Friends and Acquaintance (1900), classic account of the silver age of Boston and Cambridge which Howells had lived through. He revisited Europe and left records in various books which occasionally drew his matter out thin but in which he was never for a page dull or untruthful or sour. My Mark Twain (1910) is incomparably the tenderest of all the interpretations of Howells’s great friend. Years of My Youth (1916), written when its author was nearly eighty, is the work of a master whom age had made wise and kept strong. In 1909 he was chosen president of the American Academy, and six years later he received the National Institute’s gold medal for “distinguished work in fiction.” He died in 1920.
  His later novels make up so long a list that some of them must go unnoted, though all, if not invariably profound, are invariably kind, gay, and mellow. In them his investigation moves over a wide area which includes the somber study of a crime in The Quality of Mercy (1892); the keen statement of problems in An Imperative Duty (1892) and The Son of Royal Langbrith (1904); happier topics as in Miss Bellard’s Inspiration (1905); the sound realism of The Landlord at Lion’s Head (1897) and The Kentons (1902); and, it should be remarked, subtle explorations of what is or what seems to be the supersensual world in The Shadow of a Dream (1890), the two volumes of short stories Questionable Shapes (1903) and Between the Dark and the Daylight (1907), and The Leatherwood God (1916). This last, the study of a frontier impostor who proclaims himself a god, as an actual person had once done in early Ohio, best hints at Howells’s views of the



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